When Ninja Theory released Enslaved: Odyssey to the west back in 2010, the futuristic retelling of the classic Chinese novel, Journey to the west was well received by critics and fans alike. Now, just over 3 years since its original release, Namco Bandai games and Ninja Theory have re-released Enslaved on the PS3 and for the first time on PC in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West™ Premium Edition, containing the original game, DLC skins and Pigsy’s Perfect 10 side story DLC campaign.
As Enslaved was a bit overshadowed when it first came out there are probably many who never saw or heard of the game before. In Ninja Theory’s version of the ‘Journey to the West’ novel, the game takes place in post-apocalyptic North America, with tech-savvy Trip and her unlikely travelling companion ‘Monkey’ as they travel across the country to return Trip to her home. While ‘post-apocalyptic’ settings for games usually invoke images of brown and grey decaying ruins and barren wastelands, Enslaved’s post-disaster landscape is filled with bright, vibrant landscapes and wild, untamed plant life growing from the decaying ruins of the once-populated towns and cities from before.
The game introduces the two main characters as they’re making a daring escape from a slave airship, where they were imprisoned after being captured by the ‘slavers’. After managing to reach the escape pods just before the ship crashes into the abandoned ruins of New York City, ‘Monkey’, who’s now tasked with ensuring that Trip remains safe during the journey to the hometown she was abducted from, by fighting and defending against marauding bands of attack mechs, turrets and other automated weaponry littering the paths as you venture westward.
Having to keep an eye on Trip as you progress through the game would be similar to ‘escort missions’ found in many games, where having the escorted character die while being protected would mean instant failure. Thankfully, in Enslaved, your partner’s AI seems to be rather competent at keeping alive, and is able to take cover, hide and avoid enemy fire when you’re fighting. Trip is also able to help out by utilizing several tools at her disposal, which Monkey can call to Trip to use when needed, such as her EMP blast which stuns nearby mechs temporarily, or creating holographic projections to distract enemies. Throughout the game, you can collect ‘tech orbs’ in levels which Trip can then use to upgrade Monkey’s abilities.
Playing as Monkey will see you tackling lots of platforming-based gameplay, with Monkey jumping and climbing to reach the next objective whilst exploring the overgrown landscape. Frequent encounters with enemy mechs break up the platforming and exploration, with Monkey needing to fend off these enemies whilst protecting Trip. Combat primarily involves using Monkey’s staff to attack as well as repeatedly beating on foes using his fists. At certain points during a fight after reducing a particular enemy’s health , Monkey can perform finishing moves known as ‘takedowns’ on damaged enemies to destroy them completely while invoking a secondary action like exploding and taking out nearby mechs, or stunning targets in close proximity.
At first, there’s not a great deal of depth to fighting, other than landing hits and dodging when an enemy is about to attack. As you progress, you can enhance your abilities and learn new ones to give you a bit more variety in your attacks. There’s not very much variety with the types of enemies you come across either, with the same few classes of mechs popping up all throughout the game with a couple special boss or mini boss mechs thrown in occasionally.
Among the bundled DLC that is packaged within Premium Edition, Pigsy’s Perfect 10 stars Pigsy, who Monkey and Trip encounter on their journey in the main story. This side story campaign focuses on Pigsy’s own quest to build himself a friend to keep him company in his junkyard home, set before the main game’s events. The smaller campaign has a more humorous tone compared to the generally serious slant of the main story. Playing as Pigsy presents a different style of gameplay to the main game, where Pigsy focuses on engaging enemy mechs from a distance using his gun, ‘Lola’ , and making use of his hookshot grapple-arm to get around the junkyard.
Even for a three year old game, Enslaved Premium Edition still looks great on PS3 and especially on PC when you’re playing at 1080p. Unfortunately, not many features for customising the game settings are available in the PC version, with only the gamma and resolution options available for changing the game’s graphics settings. As many PC gamers are used to being able to change things like shadow quality, anti-aliasing, v-sync and countless other options for catering a game to their specific needs and the abilities of their graphics card, having a modern PC release with barely any options to change the game’s graphics output is somewhat disappointing.
Review Summary[PC Version reviewed]
While Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Premium Edition finally brings the game to PC, seemingly little has been done to adapt the game for the new platform. Extremely limited graphics options and references to 'your console' in the game's menus indicate that the base game is mostly a straight port from the 2010 original. That said, the game still looks as good as it did before and the detailed character performances and interactions between Monkey, Trip and Pigsy really help to make the story even more engaging. Pigsy's Perfect 10 provides a nice side attraction to the main game and gives fleshes out Pigsy's character a bit more, considering he was introduced quite late into the story.